05 Jul

If I Had 25 Hours Left to Live…

In my yoga teacher training course we had to write a series of essays. Not the kind with a works cited and MLA format* and a thesis; these were more like journals on a particular topic.

*Is this still applicable to essay writing? I studied math in university; we proved things with number and symbols not theses.

In our final ceremony we sat in a big circle and passed a candle from person to person as we all shared our last essay “If I Had 25 Hours Left to Live…” I wrote mine before I found out that the 25 was a typo, and before I found out that I would have to share it with the group. I thought about writing the obvious– spending my last hours eating a big meal with my favourite people– but it sounded boring and I wanted to think of something more awesome. That started up all these questions in my head which I ended up writing down and handing in as my essay, without really answering the original question.

I found out, on more than one occasion this past month, that people find me funny. My humour is entirely unintentional, so evidently my normal thoughts are something to laugh about (I’m still not sure how to take that). Anyway, my point is, my peers found my essay absolutely hilarious and made me promise to publish it. I think ‘hilarious’ is a stretch, but in any case I stayed true to my word.


If I Had 25 Hours Left to Live…

… I would have a hell of a lot of questions.  Mostly questions without answers. And given their philosophical nature I’d likely spend a good chunk of my brief time on earth in deep contemplation.

For starters, why twenty-five hours? Why not twenty-four? Every day of my life I’ve wished for an extra hour, so while perhaps I should be grateful, it seems like a cruel joke that God decided to finally grant me those sixty minutes on the day of my death. Figures, eh?

I also want to know how exactly I will die. Am I already in the process of slowly dying over these twenty-five hours? Will my body shut down a little bit at a time, one organ, then another, then another? If this is the case it would be a nice bonus to know the order of deterioration so I can organize and categorize my bucket list in the most efficient way possible. (I’d want to make sure I go on my dessert binge before my pancreas fails. Just sayin’.)

Am I going to die suddenly when the clock strokes 25:00 hours? That would give me much more freedom to tick off my bucket list. How great! …

… unless of course that sudden death is going to be some excruciatingly painful, horror movie situation. In that case I have to figure out a method of securing a solid supply of anesthesia or, failing that, I hear horse tranquilizers aren’t too hard to get your hands on.

And, good heavens!, why do I only have 25 hours left to live? Did I do something wrong? Was it something I said? Is this some sort of test? Do I have to do something good and kind and wonderful so that when 25 o’clock rolls around God says: “Naw, you’re cool. You can live to die another 25 hour day.”  If this is the case I wouldn’t even know where to start—doing good deeds is harder than securing horse tranquilizers! (Oh, maybe that’s why my hours are numbered!)

So assuming I fail the do-gooder test, I should probably start planning my funeral, getting all my finances in order, and maybe making a phone call to my lawyer before I address my bucket list. Work then play, so it goes in death as in life.

Now that everything is in order I realize I’ve just taken up an hour addressing all my questions and concerns. That 25 hour window is starting to make sense—smooth move God. So 24 hours left now and time is ticking…I guess it’s time to start actually writing that bucket list. With any luck I’ll get a chance to tick off a couple of items before the hour of my death comes.

01 Jul

Lifepower Yoga Teacher Training

Yoga certified, bitches!200 hours and 85,956 Chaturangas later…

It’s official! I’m a certified Yoga Teacher!

Yesterday was the final class of the 200 hour Lifepower yoga teacher training program with Jonny Kest and Jason Hulshof at the Center for Yoga in Michigan.

I didn’t really know what I was getting into when I signed up for the programme. I have always thought yoga was this freakin’ amazing mind/body exercise that everyone should do and I’m always encouraging (with a rather low success ratio, unfortunately) everyone I know to do it with me.

And what better way to share yoga than to teach it, right?

My very first time doing yoga was in my basement with a yoga video that I bought from Wal-Mart when I was 10, coincidentally, during my incense-burning, poetry writing, “hippie phase”. I thought it was so awesome because as a fat, out-of-shape, and uncoordinated child it seemed like a breeze of a workout. So, what you’re saying is, all I have to do is sit here and breathe? I totally got this! I breathe, like, everyday.

As much as I love yoga, the whole culture behind it is way out of my comfort zone, so the first four days were exceedingly awkward.

(You can get a glimpse of what my yoga teacher training days were like in my last post.)

Everyone spoke fluent Sanskrit and called the studio “The Centre”—I was getting a serious Cult vibe. It didn’t help that our first class of the day started with an invocation that everyone chanted together while I sat in the back corner hoping no one noticed the “what in the actual fuck?” expression on my face. This morning class was Ashtanga, a style which I don’t even like, and it started at some ungodly hour, which meant I arrived at “The Center” on a daily basis baggy-eyed, disheveled, exhausted, and then, upon hearing the invocation, ultimately creeped out.

Center for Yoga BirminghamYoga Teacher Training (1)

“The Centre” – Birmingham and West Bloomfield MI

I learned that every meal I’ve ever eaten in my life was wrong. Obligatory ‘yoga meals’ prevented me from enjoying my typical massive plates of food shoveled hastily into my mouth while standing up at the kitchen counter reading The Game of Thrones.

I had the chance to practice teach Sun Salutations and everything that came out of my mouth was choppy and nonsensical. I was terrified of teaching in front of the entire group and completely fucking it up, because the level of nitpickiness in the feedback sessions afterwards was out of control, to the point that students were pointing out single words that they didn’t like. And here I am unable to even form coherent sentences in my practice teaching. I never realized how hard this teaching thing could be.

Teacher Training (2)Chillin’ on the mat in anatomy class, excited to be the class Poster Child for Joint Compression

I found myself in the company of some seriously emotional people. Anyone who knows me is aware that I’m a cynical and unfeeling cyborg, so it was tough for me to handle all the sharing. So many feelings! I felt a bit like a man in a room full of women all experiencing PMS at the exact same time– bored, uncomfortable, and dying to get out. People opened their hearts. People shared some pretty deep shit. People cried. All the while, I tried my hardest to pretend like I had emotions too; it was exhausting.

I was physically exhausted by going from two yoga classes a week to two a day. I was emotionally exhausted from being so damn nervous all the time and from pretending to be emotional in the first place.

And then, on day 5, we had a day of silent meditation: an entire day of sitting in a dark room with our eyes closed and observing our breath. It was harder than it sounds. I put forth a concentrated and legitimate effort to do it right (since I felt like I was doing everything else wrong up to that point) and I relaxed myself so much that, despite efforts to fight it, I spent two thirds of the day bobbing my head back and forth ’cause I was fast asleep.

I needed that sleep so badly. After that day of meditation I went home and went to bed (turns out sleeping all day is exhausting in itself) and when I woke up the next day I had this inexplicable feeling of happiness and my fatigue completely faded away. I attributed it to all the sleeping, but there might have been something mystical about it too.

Cranbrook (6)We took a field trip one day to Cranbrook, a private school with unbelievably gorgeous grounds

The new energy somehow managed to carry me through the rest of the teacher training. Two classes a day? No problem. I might have even done three a couple of times. (3 classes a day: that’s how yogis let loose, FYI). I took vigorous notes during lecture and discourse. I spent every spare moment reading and doing homework and meditating and practice teaching to an imaginary person in my bedroom.

Most importantly I decided to be more authentic. I let go of trying to be someone I wasn’t. (Well, mostly. I did have to force my self to try and pass hysterical laughter off as sobbing during some deep “sharing” moments. And I did try to hide my “what in the actual fuck?” expression, just to be polite.) I was friendlier, because I felt more natural and I realized that all my peers were so sweet and fun. I learned more by allowing myself to take in as much information as I could, no matter how trivial I thought it was or how cynical I felt toward it. I just wanted to experience it and sort out my opinions later.

Practice Teaching (4)What’s Up Dog?

And suddenly yoga teacher training became awesome. I was living it, you guys! My awareness of how my body reacted to any situation became much more acute. I was calmer and happier. It was so weird. Hugging people became unpleasant instead of insufferable. Meditating became tedious instead of unbearable. I would drive home and only scream profanities at 2 shitty drivers instead of 20. And, I would call myself crazy for saying this, but I actually started to be aware of some underlying energy in other people. It was unreal.

In the last few days, I was really itching to get home. I wanted to see my husband and my dog. I had a severe jonesin’ for a hamburger. I wanted to do squats and deadlifts. I wanted to wake up later than 5:20am. Yes, I was having fun being immersed in yoga and in myself, but I wanted my favourite parts of my normal life back.

On day 21, our last day of training, I practice taught a full one hour Slowburn class to one of my peers. I was super nervous to do it and I worked really hard to come up with something awesome. After it was done, I thought a bit about the things I did wrong, but mostly I walked away from it thinking: “I can do this. I can totally be a yoga teacher.”


Staying true to my authentic self, I celebrated my graduation with a burger and a hot fudge sundae. All while wearing my newly earned “Yoga Teacher” tank top. Don’t worry, Jason Hulshof, that burger is only one handful of food. The fries on the other hand…well, there’s a reason they’re un-pictured.

21 Jun

A Day in the Life – Yoga Teacher Training Edition

5:15 5:20am Wake-up, make/pack breakfast, rush out the door.

6:00am Follow the Yogi Ashtanga class led by Jonny Kest in Birmingham.

Center for Yoga Birmingham

7:15am Wipe myself down with some baby wipes, change out of my sweaty clothes, and head to Starbucks to eat breakfast and kill time until my next class.

Killing TimeHot coffee and meditation reading on the mean streets of Birmingham, MI

9:00am Move my car from street to the parking garage to avoid having to pay the meter. Kill some more time outside the studio before the 9:45 hot vinyasa class.

Killing Time (2)

9:45am Hot Vinyasa class led by Jonny Kest

Pre-Yoga Class (2)Post Yoga Class
Pre and Post Class

11:05am Drive back home for a much needed shower and a lunch break. Some variation of beans and rice seems to be my food of choice these days.

LunchIs this 2 handfuls?

12:45pm Leave the house for the West Bloomfield studio for lecture.

1:00pm Yoga nap (seriously? it’s just a nap people. Why does everything have to be “yoga”?) or meditation. I opt for meditation so I can get my 20minutes out of the way. I have some really vivid visions about tapestries (literally) which gives me a great idea for a yoga class theme.

1:20pm – 4:00pm We go over the essence of a good vinyasa flow, get together with groups and make up our own variation. My group is all people who are already teachers so I contribute very little.

Then one person from each group leads everyone in the flow and we offer feedback about what we liked or didn’t like. Feedback can get tedious and nit-picky, but can be pretty helpful.

Practice Teaching (5)Testing out our flows.

4:00pm Jonny gives us a lecture on body energy or “prana” (I don’t like to call it prana cause it sounds too new age-y to me.)

5:00pm Class dismissed (on time for once!). I head to Kroger for some groceries. I leave $30 poorer and thoroughly disappointed with their cookie selection.

Grocery ShoppingGrocery shopping loot.

5:45pm Let out my roommates dogs.

Angel & Aurora

6:00pm Start making dinner and doing dishes. This time it’s beans and pulses (not beans and rice) so I’m getting more creative. (This is a super delish recipe for Lentil and Chickpea Salad, by the way)

Dinner Making

7:00pm Eat.

7:20pm-9:30pm Homework, with a tea and cookie break somewhere in there. Side note: the British are totally onto something with Hobnobs.


Tea and CookiesCookie on the left: Hobnobs (AMAZING!), cookie on the right generic Kroger brand (boring).
Not photographed: at least 3 more cookies that I devoured.

9:30pm Blog.

10:00pm Bedtime routine (you know the drill). Set the alarm for 5:15. Goodnight!

12 Jun

Four Things

I have a love/hate relationship with the Michigan Left. On one hand, it’s awesome because regular metro Detroit roads seem to have outrageously fast speed limits and the median u-turn keeps the traffic flowing. On the other hand it can be super annoying to make 2 turns when you only need one.

Michigan LeftSo many signs, so much confusion.

This instrumental violin version of Wiz Khalifa’s Black & Yellow is totally rocking my world right now. I could listen to it all day. One instructor played it at the beginning of a hot vinyasa class and it completely set the mood for me.

We learned about taking ‘Yoga Meals’ which is essentially a meditative eating process that includes sitting, avoiding distractions, and swallowing before taking your next bite. It also means not taking more than 2 fistfuls of food. Bro, do you even lift?
Probably not.

I noticed that since I stopped weightlifting my hunger has plummeted. It’s an interesting observation.

DSCF2749I try to imagine the biggest fists possible.

Taking naps is getting me through these days and the sleeping mask helps tremendously. I am seriously amazed by people who can wake up earlier than 7AM on a daily basis. I’m getting up at 5:15.

Nap Time!

03 Jun

Four Things

I have new next door neighbours!

Back in the winter when the house right next to ours went up for sale my sister and brother-in-law bought it! They finally moved in this week and I’m totally elated to have my family so close by.

As soon as we install our cup phones and roof-to-roof zipline we’ll be all set.

Sean & Vic

New Neighbours!

I wrapped up the 30×30 Nature Challenge last week.

I breezed through the first two weeks but finding nature during week 3 was a bit of a struggle since I visited the most concrete of jungles, New York City. And week 4 wasn’t much better with day after day of rain showers that kept me indoors.
Overall, I’d say I was 80% successful in getting at least 30 minutes of nature per day. On most of those days I got an hour and on a few choice weekend days I spent several hours outside.

I’m going to try to keep the challenge rolling while the weather is neither unbearably hot nor cold.

The Cloisters
Finding some greenspace in Manhattan

I really like Muppets

I’m partial to the Sesame Street Muppets, but anything Jim Henson tickles my fancy. I’ve not-so-secretly always wanted to be a puppeteer.

FAO Schwartz in New York was like my dream come true. Not only did they have tonnes of Fraggle toys for the 30th anniversary of Fraggle Rock, but they also have a build-your-own Muppet Workshop. I was really tempted to make a Muppet there, but the puppets seemed kind of low-quality so I passed.

Muppet Workshop

Muppet Workshop 2

Am I a womaaaaaan or am I a Muppet?

I’m versatile

I got nominated for a Versatile Blogger award by Jennifer at Wine to Weightlifting, which is just a fun way of getting bloggers to connect. As a result I need to share 7 random things about myself, so here it goes:

There was that time that I pissed in a watering can.

I hate ‘stuff’. I get stressed out if I ever find myself in a place with an abundance of things that are unused, unnecessary, or excessive.

My least favourite body part to work out is biceps. SO boring.

I don’t like the smell of flowers but I love the smell of wood.

I started doing yoga when I was 10 with a Yoga Mind & Body video that I bought from Wal-mart. It coincided with my incense-burning, poetry-writing “hippie phase”.

I’m really frugal. I track everything we spend money on and always make sure that our budget is on track.

My dream vacation was Greece for as long as I can remember. Last summer Matt and I went there and I still haven’t determined what my new dream vacation will be. In the running are Bali, Thailand, and Newfoundland to name a few.


Chania, Crete

22 May

30×30 Nature Challenge Week 3

Spending 30 minutes a day in nature for the 30×30 nature challenge was a bit difficult this weekend seeing as I spent 3 days in the most concrete of jungles – New York City.

I’ve never been to New York before and it’s not a place that I would place anywhere near the top of my must-see list (I prefer quieter spots to big cities when it comes to vacations) but the point of the trip was for Matt and I to visit my cousins who live there.

On Friday we explored Harlem and Midtown, naturally neither area is very green. We came across pockets of greenspace here and there in Morningside and the Columbia University campus but we never stopped in any of them long enough to relax. We were go-go-go on Friday with lots of sights to see an little time.

MorningsideEarl Hall Gate at Columbia University

Saturday we did a little better. We made the trek to the Northern tip of Manhattan to The Cloisters museum which is surrounded by a beautiful park and heather gardens. Not to mention all the greenspace in the museum itself.

I really liked The Cloisters. It was quiet (by New York standards), and had some really cool medieval architecture assembled from parts of buildings acquired from Europe. I especially loved how they recreated cloistered gardens and filled them with typical medieval plants.

Bonus tip: Admission to The Cloisters (and The Met, it’s affiliate) is $25, but that’s just recommended and technically admission is by donation. Being cheap we gave $10 per person which was much more reasonable.

Heather Gardens

Fort Tryon Park

The CloistersThe Cloisters

Sunday we got zero nature time since it rained all. day. long. It put a damper on our day in general but especially on any potential time spent outdoors enjoying whatever piece of nature we would have managed to find among the concrete.

Frankly we spent most of our weekend in New York eating delicious things: eating in Harlem. eating in Morningside, eating in Midtown, eating in Brooklyn, eating in the Lower East Side.

I hope to write a bit about all the deliciousness that was consumed over a 72 hour period.

08 May

30×30 Nature Challenge – Week 1

This challenge definitely hasn’t been much of a challenge at all. We’ve been blessed with really great weather– warm, sunny, generally gorgeous– and with the endless rains we saw in April it’s been nice to finally enjoy the spring weather.


During the week I’ve been taking my lunch outside to eat at the benches we have under the trees at work. There’s my 30 minutes right there! I usually do this when the weather is nice anyway, so it hasn’t changed my usual pattern.

Lunchtime Eating SpotLunchtime eating spot

What has changed is that I’ve been trying to bring the dog to the park more often. I usually just walk her around the block, but this week, in an effort to get a little more nature, I took Bagigis to the parks nearby and spent a bit more time outside with her.

Bagigis!Bagigis has been benefitting from the 30×30 too!
(P.S. those are Matt’s hairy legs, not mine)

Also I did a few fun activities too. Matt and I went to Amherstburg for some ice cream & froyo took a walk down by the Detroit River.

Fro Yo at the WaterfrontNavy Yard Park

And one day this weekend I took my book onto the front porch to read; a tall Greek Frappe and a book about a spruce tree read while sitting by a spruce tree.


It doesn’t get much better than this.

. . . okay, maybe it does. . .

Zipline!Ziplining at the playground

So far, this is the coolest challenge ever.

30 Apr

30×30 Nature Challenge

I signed up for the David Suzuki Foundation’s 30×30 Nature Challenge.

For my American readers, David Suzuki is an environmental superstar here in Canada and his foundation does some pretty extensive research and policy work to further environmental conservation.

The 30×30 challenge commits the participants to:

Spend 30 minutes per day in nature for 30 consecutive days

The challenge starts tomorrow and I’m signed up and ready to go.

30x30Nature Challenge

The event’s website has a pretty sweet infographic with a bunch of information about the detriments of nature deficit and the benefits of access to nature.

Here’s just a clip of the info:

Health Benefits of Nature

I’m sure that everyone can attest to feeling better after spending time outdoors in a natural setting like a park or even your backyard.

Lucky for me I don’t live in a densely urban environment and I have some pretty easy access to nature. I’m really looking forward to taking part!

I’ll be posting pictures on Twitter and Facebook about the ways I spend my 30 minutes a day so make sure to follow me!

Will you be doing the 30×30 nature challenge?

28 Apr

Four Things

Hemp, hemp, and more hemp

Last weekend for 4/20 The Body Shop had a cheeky sale on hemp products: 4 for $20. I discovered the Hemp Hand Protector when I went to Norway and think it is the most amazing thing ever and worth $20 on its own (especially during the winter, when my hands are chapped like crazy and I feel like I endlessly field questions about what the hell happened to my knuckles).

So I totally stoked up on 3 hand protectors and a body butter (just to switch things up a bit). I bought the stuff online and it just came in this week. Now, I should be good for at least 3 years.

Painted Nails

And speaking of hands, my girlfriends came over on Friday and we painted our nails. For the record I never paint my nails because they last all of half a day before they’re chipped and looking like crap. My friend Andrea insisted that this is because I don’t have ‘the good topcoat’.

She was right, but only to a degree. These lasted me about 36 hours (instead of the typical 12) before the paint started to chip pretty badly.

Baseball Massacre

Part of the nail chipping is likely due to playing catch and hitting some baseballs in the park with Matt and my BiL Sean last night. I love playing catch even though I am pretty terrible at both throwing and catching.

I have terrible hand-eye coordination so I’m lucky if I can hit a single baseball. It’s always a swing and a miss for me, except last night. Matt was pitching them nicely to me so I was hitting one ball after another (most of them aimed directly at his head, but I have no control over such things).

I was hitting ‘em so hard that I destroyed the baseball! (we’ll just disregard the fact that the baseball is about 20 years old and was already starting to fall apart).

Greek Frappe

Yesterday was finally Greek Frappe weather. Remember this awesome coffee drink that I exported back to me from my trip to Greece last summer? The one that tastes delicious but is ridiculously easy to make? Oh, I’ve missed it. Hello springtime!